Hope vs. Giving Up

In chapter 31 of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Tom and Becky are lost in the underground cave system. The children try to keep their hope of being found but it dwindles the longer they are lost in the cave. Although Tom loses hope on occasion he doesn’t let the hopelessness overcome like Becky does. Becky gives up on being found and in essence on life itself. Tom never gives up. Even though the have no food and it seems likely they won’t be found, Tom keeps looking for a way out of the cave. In chapter 32 we learn that Tom’s refusal to give up is what leads him to find a way out of the gave.

Once the children are returned home the idea of hope vs. giving up is still in the time it takes for them to recover. Tom who didn’t give up on hope recovers from the ordeal within a couple days. However, Becky is still home recovering while Tom is out about the town.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Pink Monkey. Pink Monkey, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015 <http://pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/tomsawyr.pdf>


Binaries in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A binary that plays an important role in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is friends vs. enemies. Harry Potter values his friends very much. They are held to the highest esteem and are typically very good (in terms of character). Hermione, for example, is exceptionally brilliant; she is also very trustworthy and a good student. At one point in the novel, she uses magic just so that she can take more classes. Ron, although he is from a lower class, he does not resent Hermione’s and Harry’s wealth. He is content with his family, and a loyal friend to Harry.

His enemies, on the other hand, are always seen as evil and hostile. Sirius Black, who is Harry’s enemy for the first part of the book, is immediately depicted as being a hostile criminal through the media. His disheveled appearance causes people to stereotype him further proves the fact that he should be locked up. Even the Dursley’s, who are not magical, are seen as horrendous. They constantly mistreat Harry for no good reason and thus are his enemies. Eventually Harry gets sick of the mistreatment and punishes Aunt Marge using his magic to turn her into a gigantic balloon. He resents her so much that he doesn’t even feel remorseful. After the incident “He sat quite still, anger still surging through him, listening to the frantic thumping of his heart. But after ten minutes alone in the dark street, a new emotion overtook him: panic” (Rowling, 31). He becomes panicked about going back to Hogwarts because he broke wizard law; he doesn’t think twice about what will happen to Aunt Marge. Immediately after he thinks about Hogwarts, his friends, Hermione and Ron, and how they would help him even though he is now, technically, a criminal.

The types of people that Harry decides are friends and enemies help bring to light the importance that integrity plays in choosing friends. His enemies are always evil beings who care only for themselves. While, his friends are completely selfless. Sirius Black crosses over from enemy to friend only after Harry discovers that Black was innocent and willing to die to protect his friends, James and Lily (page 374). Thinking about what qualities are most desirable in friend can help readers (children) discover the “right” qualities to have within themselves.



Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Arthur A. Levine, 1999. Print.


*extra credit post*


Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys: Help vs. Hinder

In Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, I identified the binary help vs. hinder.  Cecily the Giraffe helps (rescues)  the monkeys get across the river bank.  A sad and lonely Cecily learns that the monkeys are searching for a new home as she is searching for a new playmate.

“My name is Cecily Giraffe and I am unhappy because I haven’t anyone to play with.  Why are you sad?”

“We are sad,” said George, “because we haven’t anywhere to live.” (Rey p.6) 

When Cecily and the monkeys  become acquainted with one another as they entertain each other, Cecily slowly becomes hindered by her own generosity.  Even though she enjoys the company of the monkeys, at their request she is physically used in ways that can be viewed as dangerous.  Cecily is a seesaw, her head is tied to a tree as a ski slope, a rope is tied around her long neck a to create a sailboat, the monkeys decide to take off her skin??!!, and lastly tied up as a makeshift  harp. Though Cecily is having fun, all of these games do not really include her, tire her out and cause her pain.

“After a while Cecily’s neck got tired, but she was having such a good time that she hardly noticed.” (Rey p.12)

“He shouted orders and pulled the ropes. “Not so hard, not so hard!”, cried Cecily.” (Rey p. 17-18)

Poor Cecily.  Hindered by her own kindness and longing for companionship, she helped the monkeys find a place to live and and became their friend.  Cecily and the monkeys bond and the monkeys even write a song to show their love for her.


Rey, H. A., and Fritz Eichenberg. Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942. Print.




Group D Binary Post: Privilege vs Chore

In the second chapter of “Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Tom is stuck whitewashing the fence but soon gets Ben to do it for him by smooth talking him. Ben gives him grief for being stuck washing the fence, seen as a chore and therefore boring. However, Tom argues that it is the opposite- a fun privilege. Tom realizes that “…in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” (Twain). He makes it seem like a lofty task and not boring at all. It instantly seems desirable and soon Ben is doing Tom’s work for him. The binary here states that if something is a chore, it is completely unfulfilling while a privilege is fun and entertaining, regardless of the actual task.


Twain, Mark. “Chapter II.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Project Gutenberg, 2008. Print.


Binary: Calm vs Aggressive

Aunt Polly’s attitude shifts toward how she addresses Tom. She doesn’t see sure of how to punish him. It almost seems like she feels burdened because that’s her sister, who passed son.

“Well. I know it’s jam — that’s what it is. Forty times I’ve said if you didn’t let that jam alone I’d skin you. Hand me that switch.”

“He’s full of old scratch, but laws-a-me! he’s my own dead sisters boy, poor thing and I ain’t got the heart to lash him somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks.”

She’s struggling with the idea of disciplining Tom although she knows she needs to. Her initial tone was aggressive. But then, she’s calm and trying to rationalize.


Twain, Mark. “Tom Plays, Fights and Hides.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. N.p.: n.p., 1876. N. pag. Web. <http://pinkmonkey.com/dl/library1/tomsawyr.pdf>.


Binary Post- Zeus and Io

In Greek mythology, the king of the gods, Zeus, is constantly cheating on his wife and siring children with other women.  In this particular myth, Zeus seduces a young nymph named Io and when his wife, Hera, comes down to Earth because she’s suspicious of his actions, he turns Io into a cow.  Hera asks for the cow and keeps her in captivity until she escapes, but Hera sees through it and sends a gladfly to constantly sting her.  She is chased into Egypt and turns back into a nymph there.

Zeus is constantly doing these things, but Hera always punishes the girls.  The binary here is how men can cheat and get away with it, but women are puns and tools.


Pleasure-Pain Principle

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn vs. Model Boys
– bad/devil vs. good/angel

Our protagonist affects few sympathies considering the contradictions he embodies as a character. Tom Sawyer is a fundamentally oppositional figure: manipulative, deceptive but also weird. “”Do you love rats?” “No! I hate them!” “Well, I do, too—live ones. But I mean dead ones, to swing round your head with a string.”” (Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) Young Tom is an early masochist who refuses to sever his active and voluntary tie to deviance.

Diametrically different is the group he’s termed the Model Boys. Unlike Tom, the Model Boys enjoy church and also distinguishable by their cleanliness, manners and discipline. However, there is an even more extreme manifestation of anti-Model Boy culture in Huckleberry Finn. Still, the text acknowledges that compared to their parents, the other children (most likely including Sid and Willie: the most exemplar of Model Boys) rather feel repulsed towards the company and comportment of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn instead explicitly covet it.

Yet, unlike Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer has secured a faithful and demanding guidance in Aunt Polly. Although she admits “but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I’ve got to do some of my duty by him, or I’ll be the ruination of the child.” (Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) A combination of his boredom and spoiled upbringing have contributed to his destructive tendencies while Huckleberry Finn’s unruly nature is a direct result of his father’s alcoholism.



1.) Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Irving: Saddleback

Educational, 1999. Print.


Binary: Rollo at Play, In the Woods.

One clear binary in “Rollo at Play: In the Woods” is right versus wrong. This binary plays out well when Jonas decides that both Rollo and James are at fault. James assumes authority over the wigwam when it is not his, but Rollo should be kind to his guest and let him decide the window design.

“The boys looked guilty and ashamed, but they did not feel really penitent. They were not cordially reconciled. Neither was willing to give up.”

They could not build the window because they could not decide on one together. Since both are wrong, neither received what they wanted. By the end of the story after they behaved well with each other they wanted to build the other person’s window. They realized they could actually build two windows. Since both of them are in the right now they both got what they wanted.

Abbott, Jacob Rollo at Play, or, Safe Amusements, Boston: Thomas H. Webb &Co., 1838. 19 Oct. 2015.


Binary Post (Group C): The Truant Boy + The Truant Boy’s End

The obvious binary that we can see in the two parts of this story is Good v. Bad. Now, the binary is purposefully very broad, because within these very broad concepts are a lot of different and narrow-minded opinions that were indicative of the environment in which they were written.

One thing that stands out in this story is the idea of predestination.  The story pounds into one’s mind the idea that one mistake will inevitably lead to another, which will lead to another, and before you know it, you’re on a boat regretting your entire life’s purpose. Given the story’s context, which is some time in the 19th century, we can conceivably see that religion is the engine behind these thoughts. By not acting like a good boy would, or like a religious boy would, the path that Henry has taken is one that he can not come back from. His life will end in hell. This quote, which is on page 175 explains as much:

“Poor Henry! How much he was to be pitied! And, yet, he had no one to blame but himself, for his sorrows… if he would now truly repent…he might be happy. But…he had not resolution to break away from his wicked companions” (175).

The author of the story is urging Henry to repent, but we know that it is not to be happy, like the story says. It is to be freed from his unwinding path to hell. And so, the good v. bad binary that I mentioned before doesn’t actually seem to be the real binary. The story  masks what binary they are actually trying to equate with good v. bad. Good, to the story, means religious, and bad means not religious.


“The Truant Boy.” MESSRS. ABBOTT, Mount Vernon Reader, a Course of Reading Lessons, New York: Collins, Keese & Co., 1841. Collins, Keese, & Co., 1841. Web. 10 Oct. 2015. 

Binary Post: Rollo at Play: In the Woods

The binary that I identified in Jacob Abbott’s “Rollo at Play” is penitent vs. unrepentant.  Rollo is a young boy that is growing and learning about life through his experiences.  The lessons that the author wants the readers to absorb is clear and easy to comprehend.  The following is one example of how the binary I identified is shown.

“Rollo thought he would go and read more. It is true he was tired ; but he was sorry he had done wrong, and he thought that if he read more than he was obliged to, his mother would see that he was penitent, and that he acquiesced in his punishment. So he went on reading, and the rest of the half hour passed away very quick- ly. In fact, his mother came out before he got up from his reading, to tell him it was time for him to go. She said she was very glad he had submitted pleasant- ly to his punishment, and she gave him something wrapped up in a paper.” (Abbott,10-11)

The moral lesson to be learned is that it is the condition of one’s heart that motivates a choice, by free will, to experience remorse.  In this example, Rollo has the support of his mother who rewards him for his “good/penitent” behavior.  Children and adults reading Rollo’s experience’s of having to make the right choices, helps to instill the idea of being obedient to one’s parent and penitence is the foundation of most if not all behaviors to help through into having a healthy and prosperous life.


JACOB ABBOTT, Rollo at Play, or, Safe Amusements, Boston: Thomas H. Webb &Co., 1838